Animal activists plan to enter Aintree track and stop race from starting at Grand National

Activists plan to scale Aintree's fences onto the Grand National track. Credit: PA Images

Animal Rising activists plan to scale the fences and enter the track of Aintree Racecourse before the Grand National race begins, the group has said.

The climate and animal rights group said up to 300 activists will attend the race from 9.30am on Saturday where they intend to prevent the race from starting.

They will also block traffic by performing a slow march along Ormskirk Road, the main access route.

Nathan McGovern, from the group, said: “We do plan to be periodically blocking Ormskirk Road, the access road to the front of the racecourse, to disrupt the entry to the venue throughout the day.

“The group of people at the front will be peacefully attempting to make their way over perimeter fences/walls at the front of Aintree before the Grand National race begins with the intention of making their way onto the track.

“And all of this is before the race even starts. We will not be entering the track if there are horses and jockeys riding.”

Horses at the Grand National Aintree. Credit: PA Images

Merseyside Police said it has a “robust policing plan in place” and is working with Aintree’s owners The Jockey Club in preparation for any incidents.

One horse has already died at the Grand National Festival – Envoye Special, ridden by James King – after it fell in the Foxhunters’ Chase just after 4pm on Thursday.

It is the 60th horse to have died at Aintree in the past 23 years.

  • Animal Rising activist Claudia Penna-Rojas said they are at Aintree Racecourse to draw attention to the fact that "animals are being put in harms way" during horseracing

Animal Rising, which changed its name from Animal Rebellion on Monday to move away from the umbrella of Extinction Rebellion, wants to use UK horseracing’s biggest calendar event to highlight the “broken relationship” between humans and animals.

“It’s a spotlight that we really need to be using to push a national conversation about our broken relationship, not only with horses but with all the animals that we use, whether that’s for food, fun, entertainment and dog and horse racing," Mr McGovern said.

“This is very much about a bigger picture of recognising that, in a nation of animal lovers, we’re not really living up to those values with our actions.”

Horses racing at the Grand National. Credit: PA Images

A Merseyside Police spokesperson said: “Merseyside Police has a robust policing plan in place for Aintree, as it does for any major public event, to ensure the safety and wellbeing of everyone involved.

“We have been working with our partners, including The Jockey Club, for a number of months in the build-up to this year’s festival to ensure that any necessary plans and processes are in place to deal with any incidents that may arise and to prevent any significant or ongoing disruption to racegoers and local residents and businesses.

“We respect the right to peaceful protest and expression of views, but public order or criminal offences will not be tolerated and will be dealt with robustly.”

A spokesperson for the British Horseracing Authority said: “While we respect the rights of anyone to protest safely and legally, we condemn any action which is illegal, especially if it puts at risk the safety of horses, jockeys, officials or fans.”